Metabolism is the process that converts food into energy, according to Mayo clinic. Simply put, metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories. Gender, genetics, age, medication and general health can all affect metabolism, as can crash dieting, insufficient sleep or not getting enough exercise.
You might not be burning calories quickly or efficiently simply enough because of poor food choices or a sedentary lifestyle. How can a sedentary lifestyle impact your metabolic health? And are there ways to boost the latter even if your job requires you to be at a desk? Here’s breaking it all down.
- Gender, genetics, age, medication and general health can all affect metabolism, as can crash dieting, insufficient sleep or not getting enough exercise,
- In addition to your physical well-being, sedentary behaviour also affects your mental health,
- A sedentary lifestyle comes with the increased risk of metabolic syndrome, but a few simple changes can reduce the risks and help boost metabolism.
The Cost of Staying Seated
The Sedentary Behaviour Research Network defines sedentary behaviour as “any waking behaviour characterised by an energy expenditure ≤1.5 METs while in a sitting or reclining posture”. In simple terms, it’s all the time you spend sitting, reclining or lying down.
A 15-year-long study has established that regardless of how active you are physically if your lifestyle is primarily sedentary, you are at an increased risk of early death. In addition to your physical well-being, sedentary behaviour also affects your mental health. Another study involving 10,381 participants reports that lack of physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle is associated with a higher risk of developing mental health issues.
The good news is that you can’t ‘ruin’ your metabolism, and it is possible to rev up a metabolic rate. Even if you are desk-bound through the day, there are simple changes that you can incorporate into your lifestyle, which will certainly help in every way.
6 Tips on Boosting Your Metabolism to Burn Fat
1. Catch more ZZZs
Sleep can hugely impact your metabolic rate and the pounds you are packing, says a joint study conducted by the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University. The four-year-long study involving 1,024 volunteers tracked sleep and metabolic hormones and found that people who slept less than eight hours had a proportional increase in body mass index (BMI). Leptin is a metabolic hormone called the “satiety hormone”, which tells your brain that you don’t have to eat anymore.
It was found to be lower by 15.5% in people who had five hours of sleep, as opposed to eight. As a double whammy, these subjects also had a 14.9% increase in ghrelin levels, which is a hunger-inducing hormone. So, how much sleep is enough sleep? Do your metabolism a favour: put the gadgets in the next room, draw the blinds and get about seven to eight hours of shut-eye every night.
2. Ditch that desk
Couldn’t get a workout in today? Here are a few other ways to boost metabolism:
- Take the stairs—the free, anywhere, anytime fitness feature built into most buildings—even if only for part of the way.
- Standing up at your desk burns more calories than sitting all day.
- Walk to your colleague or boss for a conversation instead of picking up the phone.
- Got calls scheduled? Walk the corridors as you take them.
- Walk to that cute cafe, a park or just to the cafeteria for your lunch instead of eating at your desk.
3. Drink your way to health
Binge drinking is good for you if it is water, the zero-calorie, zero-sugar miracle liquid. Several studies have established that dehydration causes a drop in the metabolic rate. This was ratified in a study at the University of Utah, which established that people who drank eight to 12 glasses of water burned more calories at rest than those subjects who only drank four glasses. In an evil twist of fate, feeling thirsty can manifest as feeling hungry.
Reach for a tall glass before you grab the cookie, then wait to see if it really was hunger. Some studies have shown that cold water increases metabolism more than water at room temperature since the body does extra work to warm the water. To try and feel completely satiated, go for zero-calorie sparkling water, as the carbonation makes you full for longer. Set a timer and reach for a cold one (again, water only!) often, then ask for a double.
4. Bump up the heat
As your body temperature rises your metabolism gets a boost, too. According to one study, reducing body temperature by one degree can cause a drop of 100-130 kcal each day. Conversely, the study also showed that a 1°C (about 34°F) increase in core temperature can bump up the metabolic rate by 10-13%.
The bonus here is the positive feedback loop—raising body temperature boosts metabolism, which raises core temperature. Bump up the air conditioning to a greener figure, or layer up if the thermostat is not in your control.
5. Add spice to life
In addition to layering up, bump up the heat in your food. Capsaicin is the active component in chilli peppers. Research tells us that adding it to your food can increase energy expenditure, raise core temperature and bump up the use of body fat for fuel, all of which help boost metabolism. Reach for the bottle of hot sauce, jalapeños, chilli peppers or cayenne at your next meal.
6. Move early and often!
The best way to compensate for a sedentary day is to have an active morning. An early start of the day makes room in your routine for a workout. Too hot, cold or wet for a workout? According to the American Journal of Cardiology, finding a way to fit metabolism-boosting exercise is well worth any inconvenience.
They recommend cardio, and endurance, aka aerobic exercise, preferably in the morning, to help boost metabolism. Adding weight or resistance training is a cherry on the cake since it boosts your metabolism in two ways. One, you develop lean muscle tissue, which burns more energy per pound than fat, even at rest.
Secondly, your metabolic rate stays high for up to 48 hours after strength training! Don’t be afraid to exercise more than once a day; start early and squeeze in as many sessions as you can. Take a 20-minute walk around the block after lunch. Or get out of the cab a few blocks before home and walk the rest of the way, using your backpack as free weight.
Don’t let that desk job get in the way of boosting your metabolism. A sedentary lifestyle comes with the increased risk of metabolic syndrome, but a few simple changes can reduce the risks and help boost metabolism. Getting a full eight hours of sleep and getting an early start goes a long way in boosting metabolism.
Hydration, frequent and smaller meals and adopting a more active lifestyle are other simple changes you can make. Last of all, bumping up the heat in your home, workspace and food all help raise core body temperature, which is great for increasing your metabolic rate.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns and before undertaking a new health care regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
- Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories – Mayo Clinic
- Letter to the Editor: Standardized use of the terms “sedentary” and “sedentary behaviours”
- Sedentary Behaviors and Subsequent Health Outcomes in Adults
- [PDF] Physical activity, sedentary index, and mental disorders in the SUN cohort study. | Semantic Scholar
- Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index